GiocaResponsabile. A Brief Description of the Project
Gambling has become a public health issue, implying not just the suffering of problems by individuals and their families, but also involving economic and social costs. It is important to provide opportunities for differentiated preventions and treatments, not only as to methods, types of care, and counselling, but also in regard to settings, availability in time, and means of access. Acknowledging these findings, the first National Helpline for Problem Gambling was established in October 2009. Out of concern about severe adverse psychosocial consequences and prevalence rates of gamblers and problem gamblers, the Italian Federation of Workers of the Departments and Services Addiction (FeDerSerD) initiated and then managed the gambling helpline and website service GiocaResponsabile.
The helpline, mainly funded by the major Italian gaming operators, was active 11 hours a day by telephone (9am to 8pm) and 24/7 on the Internet (e-mail and chat services). Freely accessible, friendly, confidential, and anonymous, the service was managed by therapists and other professionals (e.g., psychologists, psychotherapists, and lawyers) providing counselling and assistance to people who sought help for gambling problems. As such, the service also provided support not just for gamblers but also families, friends, and others indirectly affected by gambling problems. The gambling helpline also enabled access to face-to face counselling and therapies, directing the user to the care services in each Italian region, whose contacts are still available on the website. The helpline service ended 31st december 2018.
Since August 2013, an online therapy for problem gambling has been available on Gioca-responsabile website (http://www.gioca-responsabile.it/). This service, also free of charge, is for gamblers who want to be treated by specialists online. Registered users are guaranteed anonymity and confidentiality throughout their treatment. Access to treatment is granted after assessment of both severity and motivation to treatment. The program's modules are visible in the private session that is accessed through user ID and password, and are managed by the therapists in agreement with the patient. The patient has a weekly appointment of 30 minutes telephone conversation with the therapist. This service is still active.
Excerpts from Lucchini, F., & Griffiths, M. (2015). Preventing and treating problem gamblers: The first Italian National Helpline. Responsible Gambling Review, 1(2), 20-26.